Mystery meet BLACKFLIES ARE MURDER by Lou Allin (Rendezvous), 280 pages, $12.95 paper. Rating: NNN BLOOD OF OTHERS by Rick Mofina (Pinnacle), 480 pages, $9.99 paper. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
I can't imagine how the Arthur Ellis jury - the one judging the best of Canadian crime writing - decides.Here are two of the five books nominated for the prize - both of them quite good - and they represent two completely different takes on the genre.
Rick Mofina's Blood Of Others is one of those sprawling thrillers that tell you who the killer is early on and then make you sweat over whether the good guys will catch up to him before he gets to the good girl.
Lou Allin's Blackflies Are Murder tells a much smaller story in one location and makes you wonder whodunit.
Her characters are quirky people you'd like to meet, including Belle Palmer, a realtor whose eco-conscious neighbour Anni is killed during a rash of bear poachings, and Charles Sullivan, a man both engaging and weirdly secretive, who buys a house close by.
Mofina's are people you'd want to avoid in real life: bitter Detective Sydowski, besieged news writer Tom Reed, his pig editor, Brader, and a serial cyber-stalker who has a way with a knife and is killing off the lonely young women he meets online.
While Blackflies takes its setting - cottage country near Sudbury - very seriously, commenting on its enviro-niche and the impact on it of Ontario politics, Blood gives us an urban sweep, following the peripatetic killer from San Francisco to Toronto and Baltimore for plot purposes.
Mofina's encyclopedic on the subject of forensics, relishing the details that make up detective work, and his cyber-theme takes him into complex technical issues.
Allin is more inclined to explore her characters' habits - Belle's food faves, for example - and emotional motivations, and takes detours to explore issues like homelessness and old-age care that range outside the "why did the murderer do it?" frame.
We find out who wins the prize on Wednesday (June 4). See Readings, this page.
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